Perfume world has changed drastically since covid barged into our lives. Many brands postpone their new perfume launches due to insufficient number of ways to promote them internationally (no fairs, no exhibitions), some brands are using online platforms and live meeting tools to present the fruit of their work. Then, there’s a small number of brands that didn’t survive the crisis and they disappear from the fragrance scene. As in Poland lockdown has just been extended by another week I wonder how perfumers work during. Luckily many can work from their home studios. Despite difficulties Panouge coupled with young & talented perfumers and let their creativity go wild.
Datura Amaretti is a powerful fragrance with a lot of presence. It starts with a juicy mandarin note followed by a super fruity, almost overripe cherry. I believe cherry is what makes this perfume slightly daring and a bit more challenging. After a moment the perfume tones down and by becoming more quiet it reveals the floral notes hiding in its heart. Datura, a poisonous plant that lend its name to this composition, is paired here with ylang-ylang which results in warm and creamy bouquet that makes my head wander off to someplace tropical. The scent is also akin to suntan oil. Over time Datura Amaretti turns slightly nutty due to almond presence in the base. The combination of bitter and sweet with a crunchy texture instantly evokes amaretti biscuits. This gourmand touch makes perfect sense as a follow-up of cherry, especially that both have a scent thanks to benzaldehyde. The cookie drydown is kind of comforting and feels safe, softness or musk and cedar don’t disrupt this mood but go along with it.
Those of you who are fig lovers will be happy to discover Patchouli Figue. This composition starts with a succulent greenness of of fig leaves which are lifted up by a fruity-green smell of rhubarb and by a juicy pear that exudes ripe, fruity but also watery aromas. Lactonic notes of fig take this composition with a storm and deliver a powerful scent that takes control of the situation. Addition of jasmine make it feel greener and just a tiny bit flowery. In this particular case jasmine is stripped off its big white floral grandeur. I don’t like fig in perfume, I never did, but what intrigues me in Patchouli Figue is that from the very beginning I could also smell some dusty particles of cocoa. It becomes more pronounced in the base as it gives off this dark, nutty facet with some bitterness. A promise of chocolate. Patchouli adds to that darkness through its earthy facets of dry soil, moss & undergrowth. Amber and cedar make it brighter and they give an oriental twist to the composition.
Within this collection that consists of four fragrances I believe most people will find Rose Agathe to be the most polarizing one. The perfume starts with a blast of black pepper and the dry spiciness that mercilessly drills through your nose and goes straight into your nostrils. Metal accord provides additional coldness and shivers when you smell this perfume. Elemi resin amplifies these cold & spiced facets as it adds some balsamic qualities to the blend. Heart of the composition remains cold as ice. It serves some rose but with a lot of rose oxide – a synthetic molecule that makes the accent on these chilly, metallic aspect of the flower. Aromatic notes of geranium feel verdant, their crisp & crunchy stems also feel kind of cold. Incense finally increases the temperature a bit but it doesn’t change the fact Rose Agathe has an austere, eerie aura to it. Drydown combines ebony wood that gives depth, combined with mineral accord (more cold again). Leather and labdanum add some warmth and tenacity to the composition.
Last but not least there’s Absinthe Gaiac which I saved for the end of the post because it’s my favorite fragrance in the collection. This perfume starts with an invigorating and slightly ozonic note of violet leaf that after a moment becomes sweeter & slightly powdered. Wormwood, a plant that gives absinthe its hallucinogenic fame, provides a contrast by exuding some bitter greenness. Heart of the composition is a tender blend or parched, dry nutmeg, a bit of rose and an elegant leather accord. The perfume feels embracing and it has something comforting to it. Like lazy cracks of wood logs in the fireplace – cozy and soothing. Base of Absinthe Gaiac goes along this idea. Warmth of golden-hued amber plays along the powerful yet tender gaiac wood. Over time the perfume digs slightly deeper into the ground. Earthiness of patchouli and rooty aspect of vetiver make this perfume feel more substantial and connected to nature. Musky tones in the base make this oriental perfume fluffier and more dreamy. For me there’s nothing I don’t like about it.
In the world that is still highly affected by covid and when the perfume scene suffers greatly from the lack of exhibitions where new fragrances can get enough attention, I am glad I can still try something new. Although for me the number of scents I can try had also dropped significantly, I have to be thankful for those who still remember about me & offer to send a sample. Those packages brighten my days more than ever. Matieres Libres collection was developed by Maelstrom perfumers – Marie Schnirer composed Patchouli Figue and Rose Agathe, Patrice Revillard stands behind Datura Amaretti and Absinthe Gaiac. All fragrances are eau de parfum & are available in 100 ml bottles.